A Dark Chest of Wonders

Welcome to the House of the Kennedy

Tag: learning


Today, in my English class, we were given a prompt for which we will write an essay on tomorrow. We’re about to start 1984, a book that has been on my to-read list for some time now, and I think that this is the perfect setting to do it in. To be sure, I have always taken the books we read–anything in English–quite seriously, because above math, above science, English teaches you to be human, truly. For this matter, every essay where we only had to answer the prompt accordingly, I took it as an opportunity to really take a look at the literature that we were reading, and this is mostly because I believe one day, people are going to want to read my little High School essays. Not to mention, I’m allergic to mediocrity, therefore, to only do the bare-minimum doesn’t sit well in my gut. Why use only one color paint, or only a small part of the canvas, if you have the whole canvas to do whatever you want? Why would I only do what is required when I can do what is required plus one in order to satiate my questions, my considerations. The point of it is, not many people English–school for that matter–as seriously as I do, but English mostly. Anyways, the prompt we’re given asks us to create an argument based on a critics views of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984, which is that, Huxley’s dream of the world to come is more relevant.

Considering that which was given to us, one finds that Huxley is obviously the true Nostradamus.  Orwell’s vision of the future is one that is construed with paranoia and simple lecturing; Orwell feared the day that the world turned over to Communism. In a patriotic kind of way, as an American, I can root for Orwell and say, yeah, down with big government and secrecy, but that’s as far as I can take it. Orwell’s prose is very archaic, or maybe it’s simply that I find it to be non-literary. Huxley’s very first two paragraphs are littered with language that anyone could admire, while Orwell has the kind of addictive quality you get out of the cheesy and redundant YA novels of the era, and I suppose that’s where they get their cliche from. This is not to say that Orwell was not a convincing nor a non-compelling author, rather, he was just not very effective with his language in the way that he could have been with a novel like 1984, especially with a predecessor like Brave New World. All this is to say, though, that Huxley is more alike to a professor, a scientist, or a philosopher; Orwell reminds me of the guy who rants in front of your college, on his soapbox, as he pounds his fist in the air crying out his favorite phrase, “DOWNWITHBIGBROTHERDOWNWITHBIGBROTHERDOWNWITHBIGBROTHER”, Orwell’s vision is archaic and only, truly, good from a historical stand point. While Orwell manages to create compelling arguments on the idea of government spying and secrecy on its people in order to keep them in check, which is certainly relevant in the modern age, it’s but a stepping stone of what Huxley envisioned. Huxley looks at the whole of the picture, not only a small part of the canvas as Orwell does. In this way, we find that Huxley’s vision might be the correct one, in the long run. Brave New World addresses the problem of community and society today: teenagers–my pupils–are consumed by themselves, we are consumers are consumed by ourselves, we are as much a product as the products we buy on late night infomercials and the ads on the sides of your screen catered just for you by AdSense. We are not ourselves!

Chuck Palahniuk tells us that we are not our car, our job, our wallet, yet we are! People would rather know that they have everything that they want, that they are comfortable before they are uncomfortable, rather than knowing that the world is not centered around them. Many people take a stance against my generation, when we are only a product of the world for which the previous generation helped to create. We are self centered because the technology that we used is centered around us. Siri asks us what we would like to be called, we can choose what we want Siri to sound like; we are told that our parents took up a second job for our benefit, we are told that we are being forced to do this and this for our benefit. Do you understand? We are constantly told that this is the ME generation, and thus we have been indoctrinated into the Cult of Self. This is our great transgression, our great demise: the things we love, what we believe to be “us”, is what’s killing us, as Huxley feared. We’ve all be diagnosed with Stockholm Syndrome and are in love with our captors, our iPhones. In these ways, one can only agree with Huxley.

YET! As I listen to a podcast–Ear Biscuits with Rhett and Link, Good Mythical Morning–the guest being the co-creator of reddit, Alexis Ohanian, they’ve started talking about how the internet, social media, is a reflection of society as a whole. While there is a large group of people who would try and misuse sites like reddit, Vine, Instagram, and Facebook for porn, there is an even larger group of people who would oppose it, and an even larger group still who are decent human beings. We find that, overall, as a society, we really do only want to advance, and the way that we advocate this is through social media. By cultivating virtual communities where we congregate to talk about cheese melts, Doctor Who, and suicide, we are creating a society where we are not captive at all: we are our governors, we are our own masters, we are, in a sense, the vision of communism realized. The Internet is in fact the utopia for which writers such as Orwell and Huxley have been searching for. There are those who may try to thwart it–that is the issue of net neutrality–but you simply cannot. In this way, I agree neither with Huxley or Orwell, or more aptly, the critic who contrasted the two to begin with, since that is what the prompt ask.

This is learning. This is what I think the purpose of school is: to make you truly think about the subjects for which you are being compelled to write about, not for a grade, but for the thrill of exploring such topics and how they will effect you. This is how we are created. Some of my pupils only come to make true those things for which Huxley predicted: they have become the captives of their iPhones, they have become the captives of their own filtered reflection. This is my confliction, but, I have never been more pleased to be conflicted.

We only have forty minute to write the essay, by hand, and I wrote this in something like 10 minutes. Let’s hope I can come to some stance by tomorrow.


Exercise: Walking

I walk a lot. I mean, more than the normal person walks on a given weekend, especially if they have a show that they want to watch, work to get done for school or a job, or simply are too lazy to do much more than breathe in and out, lethargically and snort a couple of times when the air doesn’t go in and out right: wheeze, huuuuh-huuuh, like you’re some kind of mad cow who just had a good sprint from the whip, only, you didn’t. You’re just human, I guess.

Still, I like to think that my walking patterns are what keep me on the brink of health, per the fact that over the years, numerous times, by many doctors, that I need to lose weight. This is not only because I have asthma and all that fat pressing against my lungs will do me no good at all, but also because…fat. Not fun, nor is it pretty: have you ever got out of the shower and just traced with your eyes your stretch marks, and then you feel them: how bumpy and smooth they are,and then you just start to wonder where they came from? Time wasted pondering your fat, pudgy, lethargic, cow-like body. So, yeah, I need to lose weight, and these walks are what keep me on the edge. Now, I don’t walk just to walk: I walk because I didn’t have a car, nor a bike because the pedal fell off from my incredible girth, or something like that, and I don’t know how to fix it. For this matter, I go to stores and other people’s houses by foot, though mostly, to stores, especially since they’re all walking distance anyways.

On these walks, there is a bountiful wealth of information and idealism for me to grab from. A couple of years ago, I realized how much I hate cars, or rather, not being the one in side of it. People fly down the street, stare at you all the while, and kind of give you this scowl of discontent and elitism like they’re better than you because they walk, or because you walk, you must be some lower type of human being. The first time this all happened, I always just looked away or at the ground, but these days, I’ve learned to look right back at them and counter their thoughts: I hope you get into an accident for paying more attention to me on the sidewalk than this street full of cars. This is the idealism, almost brainwashed propaganda, crafted and distributed by the dictator that is consciousness, that you begin to teach yourself when you walk or in a situation where you are the walker. This is why not only exercise, something as minimal as walking from place to place to consume and defecate, and walking are good for the writer: you lean yourself, and you learn about the world, your perception is broadened and suddenly ideas are streaming in your head about how you can convey these idealisms and thoughts into something that is not so harsh and more entertaining…though, imagining a Grand Theft Auto like car accident can be quite grand in hindsight.

So, I’ve got some homework for you: go for a walk. A friend told me once when I said I might start running (this never happened) that don’t just run to run: run somewhere where you’re actually going to do something. In truth, really, there is actually nothing more unsatisfying for the brain to do something that has no reward. We are consumerist creatures and for this matter, we need something to consume, we need rewards for spending time and energy on something. This can be something as minimal as water, food, or cool air a the end of a workout, but in our times and the way our minds have been trained, I think you need something more: to buy something (buying those shoes you really wanted for a long time) , to receive something exciting (running to the movies to see this movie you’ve been waiting to see because it has your favorite actor), or to see someone you haven’t seen in a while, so you run all the way there because you just want to see their face. With this in mind, don’t just go for a walk for the benefit of your writing only, go for a walk to go somewhere, and alongtha t walk, that odyssey to this place, listen to music or the sound of the world, and learn about yourself and this world from the view point of someone who has always driven or been very impartial, you’ll learn a great deal about yourself and notice things you always missed while driving: “I didn’t know they got a new fence; I didn’t know they went fishing; I didn’t know she has a Porsche, I wonder how much this bitch makes.” Go for a walk this week or this weekend.